Child Custody Laws
One of the most important aspects of any divorce with children involved, is the matter of custody, and we are determined to make sure you have equal rights to your child. There are two elements of the custody of a child: legal and physical custody, both of which must be settled in divorce proceedings. Legal custody refers to the power of making majority decisions in the child’s life, such as education, health, and welfare. This differentiates from physical custody, which refers to which parents have the majority of time with the child.
While it is a widely held belief that the mother is most likely to win custody, there are a number of factors that go into the court making their complicated decision. Most often, judges prefer to grant joint custody to the parents, especially in the case of legal custody, requiring that parents make life-changing decisions for the child together. Unfortunately, this agreement between the two cannot always be reached. It is solely a matter of what is in the child’s best interest, and minors are under the court’s jurisdiction in this regard. Older children may have their preferences taken into consideration. Regardless, the child’s best interest will be based on factors such as:
• The child’s age
• The child’s primary caregiver in the marriage
• Comparison of parenting skills
• The physical and mental state of each parent
• The work obligations of each parent
• The relationship the child has with each parent
• The proposed childcare plans
• A history of abuse or neglect
It is when one of these more extraordinary instances occurs, such as those featuring neglect, abuse, or illicit substances, that sole custody will be awarded. The ruling of sole custody, however, does not have an impact on child support, and this still allows the non-custodial parent to apply for visitation. In the case that neither parent is fit, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or other relatives may be appointed as guardian of the child.